Australia. The southern land. The Land of Luck. Oz. Whatever you call it, everyone knows Australia for Sydney, the surf, and its sandy beaches. But what about those who live there? From abbreviated slang terms to crunchy sunny Christmas treats, here are ten facts that only people who have lived in the southern land can understand.
YOU KNOW SIZE MATTERS
Australia is known for its vastness. In fact, if spread over Europe, it would cover almost the entire continent. Due to its immense size, traveling by road is logistically complicated – not to mention crossing a desert. As a travel blogger, would you like to cross the country from west to east, from Perth to Brisbane? Well, that would be equivalent to driving from Madrid to Moscow – and the trip would probably take that long!
YOU WILL BE EXCELLENT AT CALCULATING THE TIME DIFFERENCE
When you live in Australia, calling overseas takes more than just math skills. Try to equate the 17-hour time difference between Sydney and Seattle or call London from Brisbane (where the time difference is “only” ten hours!) If you call an overseas correspondent from Australia, one of you will be chatting in your pajamas while the other is getting ready for dinner.
YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN “AUSSIE” ACCENT AND A “KIWI” ACCENT
Before having stayed in the southern land, many people think that the Australian and “kiwi” accents are identical. Although it may be confusing at first, a few months of immersion in the heart of Australian English will allow you to recognize New Zealanders in a flash, betrayed by their way of pronouncing vowels, their slang, and their intonation.
YOU DRINK A LOT OF COFFEE
Instant coffee? Filter coffee? Get out in town! Australia rivals the best of them all when it comes to coffee. Having experienced a boom in the 1950s, after the first espresso machine arrived in Melbourne, great coffee can be found in every major city in Australia – but ordering a cup requires a brief lesson in the local lingo. To look local, order a flat white (espresso with a container of steamed milk and milk froth, similar to a latte), a long black (one or two cups of espresso added to hot water, similar to an americano), or a short black (single espresso).
YOU DON’T DRINK FOSTER
Some rather clever marketers convinced everyone in the world and their dog that Aussies and the Fosters belong together – thanks to the slogan “Foster’s Australian for Beer”. When you’re in Australia, however, you’ll quickly find that while the Foster isn’t visible anywhere, there is a vibrant micro-brewery community and craft beers are springing up like mushrooms across the country. So, to your health!
DREAMING OF A HOT CHRISTMAS
The day when Australia will know a white Christmas will undoubtedly be with the return of the ice age on Earth. Until that catastrophic moment, Australians will have sunshine and prawns instead of snow and eggnog. In the middle of summer, Christmas in Oz is a big event, complete with mother daughter trips to the beach, games of cricket in the gardens, seafood, sunshine, and a sweaty Santa. (Wearing shorts and riding in a sled pulled by kangaroos!).
PUT ON A SHIRT, CREASE AND COVER YOUR HEAD
Australia sits just below a huge hole in the ozone layer, which means ultraviolet rays burn all year round. For this reason, sunburn and skin cancer are a constant threat, so tanning is a no-no and Australian children are taught from an early age to put on a shirt, slather on sunscreen and cover their heads for better protection.
YOU TAKE YOUR HOLIDAYS IN THAILAND, BALI, OR VIETNAM
Given the geographical proximity of these countries, they are very – if not extremely – popular holiday destinations for Australians, who export their piercing accent and penchant for bargaining. The Australian presence is so strong in Southeast Asia, especially in Phuket and Bali, that on some days you would be hard-pressed not to meet Australians. Cultural immersion, volunteers?
YOU MIGHT NEVER COME TO KANGAROOS OR WILD KOALAS
Contrary to what we would like tourists to believe. Australians haven’t been fighting crocodiles or training kangaroos to box from a young age. It is true that there is vast exotic wildlife in the southern land (including the most venomous animal in the world. The box jellyfish). These adorable and strange creatures certainly do not serve us as pets. Nor do we encounter them on the way to work.
YOU SHALL ABBREVIATE ALL WORDS
All in the name of more effective conversation (or maybe a little laziness)! In any case, in “Straya” – frankly horrible abbreviation of the name of our country. You will hear arvo for the afternoon (afternoon). Exxy for expensive (expensive), avo for an avocado (avocado). Cuppa for a cup of tea ( cup of tea), choccy biccy for chocolate biscuit (chocolate biscuit). Servo for service station (gas station), mozzie for mosquito (mosquito) and the delicious tradie. Postie, garbo, muso, and truckie respectively for tradesman, postman, garbage truck driver, musician. And truck driver (tradesman, postman, dumpster driver, musician, and trucker)… among dozens of others.